The countdown is on until Christmas holidays. Some parents love the holidays, relishing in extra time at home with their children and others dread them, wishing for the end of January to arrive. Here’s a few ideas to help to make your kid’s break from school as enjoyable and productive as possible.
Keep a routine
I love not having to get kids dressed and race out the door in the holidays, but I find that if we stick to a schedule, even a relaxed one, our days run smoothly. A few lazy days are fun, but kids who still have some normalcy to their days will find the transition back to school next year much easier. A few special nights are a great idea, to make meaningful, exciting memories, but kids thrive on routine and knowing what to expect, so keep meal times regular and send them to bed on time each night so tempers are less likely to fray!
Keep up the reading habits that you’ve built all year. It’s easy for teachers to tell who has been reading consistently through the holidays. Build on the momentum gained this school year and borrow lots of books from your local library so that you have a steady supply of interesting material that your kids will want to dive into.
Take a little bit of time to plan some activities for long road trips. Set up a playlist on the ABC Listen app according to your children’s interests. Make a Travel Bingo game to pass the time (if you’d like the bingo game I made for my own kids, let me know and I’ll leave one at the office for you). Have a few snacks in the front of the car that you can pass back when the fidgets start. If your kids are little enough, a bag of Travel Toys might be useful. I scour the shops for small, quiet toys that the kids only have access to on a road trip. They love the novelty of having a surprise from the bag at regular, but well-spaced out intervals during the trip. For us, alternating between games, snacks, podcasts, music and silence makes the time pass relatively painlessly.
Spend quality time, not money
Try not to feel the pressure to spend copious amounts of money on ‘things’ in the Christmas period. Gifts are fun, but most children will value the quality time spent with family doing things they love. Cooking apricot balls together when a child has your undivided attention is likely to be more impactful in the long-term than buying them a video game. Hike together, make your own wrapping paper, have a family movie night with your mattresses in the loungeroom, cook Christmas treats for your neighbours and build memories and traditions that last.
Think of others
Brainstorm with your kids a list of people or groups in your spheres that could benefit from your input. Can you choose a gift for a children’s charity, or make cards for grandparents, plan and cook a meal for someone in need. Teach your kids to consider others by demonstrating it with them.
Let them be bored
Creativity blossoms when children are bored. If every hour and activity is planned for, there is no reason for children to need to design their own games. They might whine initially, but resist, and let them come up with their own activities to entertain themselves.
Use the holiday period to reconnect with your kids, engage with them individually in a relaxed way and enjoy the break from packing lunchboxes!
Mrs Hayley Burns / Junior School Learning Support Coordinator